Bug Out! With Karen K & the Jitterbugs, playing retro-rock for the whole family!
Called the “Kiddie Queen” by the Brooklyn Paper, Karen K (the “K” is for Kalafatas) and her Jitterbugs have built a quick and steady following since their debut in 2011. Originally based out of Brooklyn, New York and now out of Boston, Massachusetts, where the singer moved recently with her family, Karen K and her Jitterbugs are new additions to the “kindie” music scene – a term coined for the blend of kids music and indie rock. Karen’s genre-swirling, funny, nostalgic and completely memorable songs have garnered rave reviews from tots, parents and even grandparents. (In fact, many parents admit to listening to her music even when the kids aren’t around. But don’t tell anyone.)
A musical theater veteran with “powerhouse vocals,” according to one national iTunes customer, Karen K's ability to connect with her audience at her live shows make the Jitterbugs as much a treat to experience in concert (“Get ready for a good time!” - The Patch; “A hand-clapping, foot-stomping good time!” - TONY Kids) as at home listening to one of her two albums: the band’s inaugural CD Pancakes for Dinner, or their newer Big Ol’ Truck. Both albums feature the Jitterbugs band members from New York City and Boston, whose musicianship impressively brings the songs to life.
Pancakes for Dinner is a blend of happy retro-rock tunes based on life as a kid and with kids. (Karen was a new mom when she wrote most of these, and as she does now, spent most of her time with her daughter and among the preschoolers to whom she taught music through her Jitterbugs music classes.) Highlights include a bluesy ode to everyone’s favorite dairy drink, the aptly titled Milk, and the bouncy Beatles-esque title track. Danceable, sing-out-loud songs are balanced equally with moments of poignancy, like a sweet lullaby from a father’s perspective in Sing Me the Moon, or a cry for attention from a newborn baby in a 1950’s doo-wop ballad called Swaddle Me. According to Mommy Poppins, “You’ll find yourself singing and dancing along without even trying.”
With their second helping, Big Ol’ Truck, Karen K doesn’t disappoint, as she opens her audiences imaginations – and hearts – to familiar stories of trucks, teddy bears, big brown boxes and even crying crocodiles. The title track is about as catchy a song as it gets, an homage to a hefty assortment of big trucks set to a country-meets-funk groove. (Moms and dads claim to sing this at work, among friends and even in the boardroom. They claim to dance, too, but no security video has been captured so far.) Once again, the album is interlaced with moments of tenderness, like in Bigger Than the World, the song Karen penned with her 6-year-old daughter as a bedtime ritual (her daughter sings along on this one). Of course, laugh-out-loud lyrics and catchy melodies are plentiful, including the “real” story of Noah’s Arc in Animal Party and the harrowing experience of a child’s first haircut in the hilarious First Haircut. Rock, folk, pop, country, musical theater and New Orleans jazz…there’s something for everyone on this album.
Karen K & her Jitterbugs have been featured on CBS-NY and have been top picks in New York Magazine, the New York Times, Time Out New York Kids, Mommy Poppins and Boston.com. Her Jitterbugs classes for kids ages newborn to five years are offered throughout New York City and Greater-Boston, where Karen resides with her husband and daughter, looking for just a few more hours every day to write. Songs. For you.
She hopes you like ‘em.